The Florida based ocean exploration company Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. has announced it has recovered about 48 tons of silver from aWorld War IIshipwreck 300 miles off the coast of Ireland.

Odyssey retrieved 1,203 silver bars from the SS Gairsoppa, a 412-foot British cargo ship that sank after being torpedoed by a German U-boat in February 1941.  

The metal, worth $38 million at today’s prices, was retrieved three miles beneath the Atlantic Ocean and is reportedly being held at a secure facility in the UK.

Odyssey claimed this week that the silver recovered to date represents only about 20 percent of the bullion that may still be on board the Gairsoppa. The operation is the biggest and deepest recovery of precious metals from a shipwreck.

'With the shipwreck lying approximately three miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, this was a complex operation,' Greg Stemm, Odyssey chief executive officer, told the press. 'Our success on the Gairsoppa marks the beginning of a new paradigm for Odyssey in which we expect modern shipwreck projects will complement our archaeological shipwreck excavations.'

Osyssey began the recovery in May using a chartered 291-foot ship and have announced plans to recover another 600,000 ounces of silver from the SS Mantola, another British vessel sunk by a German submarine in 1917, which lies about 100 miles from the Gairsoppa.

Odyssey has salvage contracts with the UK that allow it to retain 80 percent of the net silver value recovered.